Case in point No. 17 in this ongoing feature is legendary gag cartoonist Jack Markow, who was born in London, England in 1905 and died in New Jersey, U.S.A. in 1983. Brought to this country as an infant, he was educated here and studied at the Art Students League for six years.
An extremely prolific artist, Jack Markow’s work did appear sporadically in The New Yorker starting in 1928, though he is not generally thought of as a New Yorker cartoonist per se. For many decades, he was a mainstay of all the other traditional cartoon outlets — Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, The Wall Street Journal, Look, True, etc., etc.
Jack Markow was known as the “Dean of Magazine Cartooning”, because of his extensive role as an educator and writer during his more than fifty years in the field. He taught for many years at The Cartoonists and Illustrators School in Manhattan. The name of the school was later changed to become the highfalutin’ School of Visual Arts — still a thriving institution in the city.
I was actually one of Markow’s students in those days (in the mid-1950’s). I attended C & I for a few terms under the G.I. Bill (along with many other like-minded veterans). I don’t think I absorbed too much from him, though. I was kind of an independent and stubborn student — I really think I learned more from my fellow students than I did from Jack Markow or the other teachers. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good and beneficial time for me, but looking back over it I now I wish I had paid more attention to the instructors.
Besides teaching, Jack Markow wrote a monthly cartoon column for Writer’s Digest for many years, contributed frequently to Cartoonists PROfiles magazine, published several “How-To” books on freelance magazine cartooning and marketing and for three years was the Cartoon Editor of Argosy magazine. Moreover, his lithographs can be found in a number of museum collections around the country.
But the point of this feature is “we all have to start somewhere”, so I’m posting below some of Jack Markow’s earlier work, from the 1940’s and 1950’s.
There really isn’t much of a change in drawing style from those days to his later work — I guess you could always identify the distinctive Markow cartoon.
The first five cartoons below are from a hardcover book I’ve cited before: “The Good Humor Book”, published in 1944 by Harvest House, NY. I said that Jack Markow was very prolific, and looking through this book proves that point. He is by far the most visible cartoonist in the collection — I counted over 90 signed cartoons of his, and dozens more that I assumed were his, but the signature was either obliterated or cropped out completely. As I also said many times about this anthology, I always assumed it was a low-paying “dumping ground” collection, wherein many well-known cartoonists were encouraged to submit their bottom-of-the-barrel cartoons — cartoons that they had given up any hope of selling anywhere else.
The next four early cartoons are from Liberty magazine, a Lawrence Lariar hardcover cartoon anthology and True magazine.
And lastly, an interesting photo which I discovered on a Jack Markow Facebook page — a page that is maintained by his daughter, Janet.
From “The Good Humor Book”:
From Liberty magazine, 1950’s:
Two cartoons from a hardcover anthology, “You’ve Got Me — And How!”, edited by Lawrence Lariar and published in 1955 by Dodd, Mead & Company:
From True magazine, 1950’s:
And here’s the photo, probably also dating from the 1940’s or 1950’s. It shows Jack Markow having lunch with other gag cartoonists (and an agent) on Wednesday “Look Day”. That was the day each week that Manhattan magazine cartoon editors reserved for face-to-face meetings with cartoonists, to see their latest output and perhaps hold a few “roughs” for consideration or purchase. Cartoonists typically made the rounds of the editorial offices all day, and informal lunches together were part of the ritual.
From left to right in the photo: Dick Cavalli, Jeff Keate, Ted Key, (agent) Pat Fulford, Jack Markow and Kate Osann.